West Liberty University's Office of Institutional Advancement is making preparations for its fourth annual Great Gala, sponsored by the Ryan Ferns Healthplex.
The dinner-dance will be held at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12 in Glessner Auditorium, Wilson Lodge, Oglebay Resort and Conference Center. This year the theme is a festive red-white-and-blue tribute to Post WWII America.
The Ryan Ferns Healthplex has been title sponsor for three consecutive years. Other major sponsors include:
"We are grateful to Ryan Ferns and all our sponsors who see the value of our annual Great Gala. Our long-term goal is to engage new donors and friends to support higher education," said Director of Development Angie Zambito Hill. "However, the Gala also benefits students immediately because it funds scholarships and builds community."
The total number of sponsors is now more than 30 and proceeds from the 2014 event will fund scholarships for the College of Education.
"The theme chosen for this year's Gala is 'Post World War II,' like a victory celebration party. Guests are encouraged to dress in evening fashions of the late 1940s if they wish," Hill said. Vintage attire is encouraged at the Great Gala but not expected.
"I like to see the guests dressed in vintage attire. Everyone looks gorgeous and the Gala setting is always perfectly decorated to create the ideal backdrop," said Brittney Balzano, a student usher at last year's Gala.
WLU students assist in the Gala and are on hand during the evening providing help in a variety of ways.
"It's a great way to celebrate being a Hilltopper and something I look forward to attending once I am an alumni, especially since it benefits students," added Balzano, who is a senior criminal justice major.
In keeping with the theme, the entertainment for the evening will be provided by the big band sounds of the Tom Daugherty Orchestra of Dayton, Ohio, who will perform a Glen Miller Tribute.
Creating a vintage theme for the Gala began when the first dance featured a Great Gatsby motif. It was a unique fundraiser concept for the Wheeling area and the community responded with great enthusiasm, explained Hill.
"When I joined West Liberty University, I recognized that we did not have a big annual fundraising event that engaged the community," said Hill, "so I proposed the concept of the Great Gala to Vice President of Institutional Advancement Jason Koegler, who liked the idea right away. It has grown every year and we are thrilled."
In previous years, the Gala has grossed between $80,000 and $90,000 which was then used to pay expenses and realize a profit. The fundraising goal this year is to net $40,000 after all expenses are paid.
Though the goal of the Great Gala is to raise money for the University, it is much more than just an annual fundraising event, said Hill.
The evening begins with a festive cocktail reception, followed by dinner and dancing. Tickets are available for $150 per person or $275 per couple. Larger donation packages are also available and feature promotional opportunities, verbal and print recognitions and other amenities.